Settled around a waterfall in the Chagrin State Scenic River, this former mill towns southeast of Cleveland has a thriving arts scene.
namesake waterfall Chagrin River
Credit: Patric Fransko

Water runs through the heart of Chagrin Falls, Ohio—and so does a creative spirit. Pull back the curtain on this Mayberry-cute town of 4,000 in northeast Ohio, and you'll find eight arts organizations, including Chagrin Valley Little Theatre, one of the oldest operating community theaters in the country. Established in 1930, CVLT has deep roots. "We have a lot of families whose grandmothers, fathers and other relatives have done shows here," says former CVLT President Julia Wolff (who got married on the theater's stage). One of her favorite stories: CVLT was the first to show Man of La Mancha beyond Broadway due to a stroke of luck by two inquisitive theater members visiting New York.

Offstage attractions include Art by the Falls, a fest hosted each June by Valley Art Center that typically draws 15,000 people. A farmers market pops up on Sundays, and Yoga by the Falls with Chagrin Yoga stars in Riverside Park on alternating Saturdays—with a post-stretch encore of locally made organic juices.

10 a.m. Explore Local Art

Valley Art Center celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. Visit the gallery or take a jewelry, pottery or painting class. Don't miss the gift shop selling northeast Ohio products and the 3D-like mural on the side of the building. 

12 p.m. Lunch

Nosh on Southern-influenced dishes like deviled eggs and New Orleans-barbecue shrimp and grits at Bell and Flower. Toast to your change in scenery with The Falls in Fall cocktail (Bacardi, lime, ginger, Drambuie, oleo saccharum and prosecco). The restaurant also serves brunch on Sunday.

1:30 p.m. Go with the Flow

Take a stroll to see the town's namesake waterfall in the Chagrin River, which flows under Main Street. At one time, the falls powered nine different mills.

2 p.m. Take a Glass Class

Make a souvenir creation at Glass Asylum. Choose from 21 items, pick your colors, and work with a glassblowing artist to design and shape your piece. The process of making each item takes about 20 minutes. (Due to COVID-19, you can participate in all steps except blowing the piece.)

Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop
Credit: Patric Fransko

3 p.m. Shop

Browse your way along Main Street, which is stacked with locally owned shops and boutiques. Check out White Magnolia for home decor and gifts and All Matters Gallery and Gifts for nature-inspired art. Pop into Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop, in operation since 1949. They sell 22 flavors, including the favorite Chagrin Style—kettle corn mixed with cheddar.

6:30 p.m. Dine with Renoir 

Well, kind of. Many dishes at Paris Room Bistro are named for French artists. Try the Pierre Auguste-Renoir (French lamb meatloaf) or the Paul Gauguin (lump crab cake). The mood is tres chic in the cozy brick-walled dining room.

Chagrin Valley Little Theatre
Credit: Courtesy of Chagrin Valley Little Theatre

8:00 p.m. See a Show

Chagrin Valley Little Theatre typically produces several main-stage productions and some avant-garde shows at its playhouse. Each fall, the theater hosts an interactive whodunit, where community members participate.

More to Try

Chagrin Falls is 30 minutes from Cleveland. Pair the two for a perfect weekend.